Waterford fire victims got proper notice about insurance being canceled

Waterford - The state Insurance Department has determined that the company that ceased insuring a Waterford home just months before the home burned down gave the home's residents proper notification ahead of time that their contract would not be renewed.

The state investigation revealed that Middlesex Insurance Co. sent a non-renewal notice to Ken Willett and his mother, Rosa "Toni" Photie, in the required time frame, and that local agency Holmes Insurance Group had also contacted Willett and his mother advising them to find new insurance.

Willett and Photie lost their home of 50 years on Josan Drive to a fire Feb. 9. Due to the non-renewal, the contents of the house were not insured, while the structure was covered through the mortgage lender's insurance.

Friends and neighbors held a fundraiser for Willett and Photie Friday to help the family replace lost items.

"My gut is that the insurance company is going to be off the hook," Willett said at that time.

Department Director of Consumer Affairs Gerard O'Sullivan said he was inspired to investigate Willett's insurance issue after reading an article in The Day in April about Willett recovering from losing his home.

"I saw the story and it raised issues in my mind," O'Sullivan said two weeks ago, while the complaint investigation was ongoing. He said Tuesday that the investigation was completed last week.

O'Sullivan asked Willett to file a complaint against the company. Willett filed the complaint, and on May 9, the department began investigating whether the company had given Willett proper notice that it would no longer provide coverage in Connecticut beginning in 2014.

Willett said in April that he recalled receiving a letter from the company, but that he had assumed the company would provide coverage through 2014. He said he lost whatever documentation he had in the fire.

While the investigation is over, O'Sullivan said he plans to monitor the claim pending with the insurance of Willett's mortgage lender Seterus Inc. The claim relates to the destruction of the structure.

t.townsend@theday.com

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